Double trouble! Do workplace supports mitigate lost productivity for young workers with both severe rheumatic diseases and depressive symptoms?

Publication type
Journal article
Dobson KG , Gignac MA, Tucker L, Jetha A
Date published
2024 Jul 01
Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation
epub ahead of print
Open Access?

Background The objectives of this longitudinal study were to understand how comorbid rheumatic disease and depression symptoms were associated with at-work productivity among young adults, and to examine whether workplace support modified this association. Methods Seventy-six Canadian young adults who were employed and living with a rheumatic disease were surveyed three times over 27 months. Morbidity was defined by whether participants reported severe rheumatic disease symptoms and/or depressive symptoms. Participants were asked about presenteeism, absenteeism, and whether the workplace support needs (accommodation and benefit availability and use) were met. Generalized estimating equations were used to address study objectives. Results Seventeen participants experienced neither severe rheumatic disease nor depressive symptoms (no morbidity), 42 participants experienced either severe rheumatic disease or depressive symptoms (single morbidity), and 17 participants reported comorbidity at baseline. Participants with comorbidity reported greater presenteeism scores and were most likely to report absenteeism, compared to the other two morbidity levels. Having workplace support needs met was associated with decreased presenteeism over the 27-month period among participants with no and a single morbidity. Conversely, unmet support need was associated with greater presenteeism for participants with comorbidity. Having workplace support needs met did not modify the association between morbidity and absenteeism. Conclusion Comorbid rheumatic disease and depression burden reduce productivity among young adults. A supportive work environment has the potential to address at-work productivity challenges. Additional research is needed to understand how workplace supports coupled with clinical interventions may tackle challenges at work for young adults living with rheumatic disease and depression.